Climate change has come under the spotlight again for the South African government, as certain areas of the country continue to experience extreme weather conditions.
During the second half of this year, storms have wreaked havoc in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng. The Western Cape continues to suffer from a protracted drought, which has contributed significantly to water shortages in that province.
However, the Western Cape is not the only province in the country which has been affected by droughts this year. The difference is that other areas have started to experience some form of relief in recent months.
Either way, the weather patterns in South Africa are strange and President Jacob Zuma has expressed some grave concerns about them.
“There is scientific evidence that the African continent will continue to become warmer and at a rate somewhat higher than the 0.15 degree Celsius per decade that has been observed to date,” said Zuma this week.
“The science also indicates that future climate will include an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events,” added Zuma.
He explained the biggest mistake any authority could make, at this juncture, would be to ignore the science. South Africa sits on the G20 and climate change has been amongst the more key discussions during the past year.
“As a responsible global citizen, South Africa ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Combating Climate Change in August 1997 and since then we have been working jointly with other nations of the world to address the global climate challenge,” said Zuma.
“Our initial climate change plan of action, published in 2004, was based on intensive consultation with communities, civil society and business. Based on lessons learnt in implementing these efforts, we conducted a Long Term Mitigation Scenario study which informed our pre-2020 commitment that I announced at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference of Parties.
“We committed to a 34 percent deviation from a business as usual Greenhouse Gas Emission trajectory by 2020.”
The President said tremendous strides are being made in that regard, adding that both the causes and impacts of climate change were being addressed in all dimensions, whether that be social, economic or environmental.
“We have developed improved public transport systems in our Metros such as Rea Vaya, Areyeng and the Gautrain. Our building standards have been upgraded to international energy efficiency standards. The Green Building Council has certified a large number of energy efficient and water wise buildings.
“Our Renewable Energy Programme is among the largest globally. Our Provinces and Cities have developed and are implementing intensive Climate Change Strategies and Action Plans,” said Zuma, suggesting that South Africa was actually a leader on the continent in this regard.
“We have developed a Climate Change Response Policy with a greenhouse gas emission reduction system framework, which was approved by the Cabinet in 2015. The first phase of the system includes the allocation of carbon budgets to companies, setting desired emission reduction objectives and the development of the pollution prevention plan regulations in respect of greenhouse gases.”